Shepherd’s Grain comes from an alliance of progressive family farms dedicated to practicing sustainable agriculture. Today there are 33 growers who farm wheat for Shepherd’s Grain. They all use sustainable agriculture farming methods and they are all certified by the Food Alliance Association.
They believe it is possible to raise a product in a responsible manner, that is not only great tasting and nutritional, but benefit’s the global community. We take pride in the fact that we can provide the consumer with the information of where their food comes from and how it is produced. Local to the Northwest, we look to create a sustainable relationship between the grower, baker and customer so that all benefit. Products made from Shepherd’s Grain can be found in local universities, select restaurants, and your favorite bakery.
The idea of sustainable agriculture is a new concept in the agriculture industry. The concept of sustainable agriculture has three main ideas:
Environmental health: Taking care of the land, soil and animal life that exists on the land that is entrusted to us. Reducing erosion by direct seeding and eliminating the use of some pesticides are good examples of our dedication to preserving the environmental health of our land.
Socially Just: It is all about developing relationships and the resiliency of those relationships. Shepherd’s Grain considers the social component of sustainability to be extremely important. This is why we are very transparent in our effort to inform and educate our customers. Some suggest it to be “naked marketing” and in a way it is. We have and will continue to “bare” our souls to establish and continue those coveted relationships with our value chain partners.
Economic Profitability: Farming like any other occupation has a certain amount of risk involved. All of our work to preserve our environment and increase the quality of our end product would be wasted if we could not make a living while doing our job. The pricing structure used on Shepherd’s Grain products is derived from local university data on the costs of producing our crops. Our pricing structure is also transparent so that the buyer can see all of the costs that are associated with the product purchased.
The idea behind producing sustainable products is to allow farmers to produce safe, high quality crops, in way that will allow the soil that he farms to remain productive and be able to be passed down to the next generation while making a reasonable profit while farming.
Farming is a profession that is constantly changing. In comparison to our fathers and grandfathers we’ve reinvented ourselves by changing the way that we grow our crops. Direct seeding is to our farms what the invention of the tractor was to our grandfathers. By direct-seeding we no longer have to invert the soil with a plow. Our plants are seeded directly into the residue of the crop that came before it. Direct seeding is a complete change in the way a farmer grows his crops. The change from conventional seeding to direct-seeding is a major change requiring new equipment as well as a new approach to weed and disease control. Although the direct seed system has many challenges that the farmer must deal with it also has many advantages.
Soil erosion is reduced, reducing soil runoff into streams and rivers.
Less fuel is burned than conventional tillage. Reducing the amount of exhaust fumes being released into the air.
The amount of carbon in our soils is increasing. Conventional tillage releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere where direct seeding traps the carbon in the soil, increasing organic matter and building a healthier soil structure for creatures that live in the soil such as earthworms.
By direct-seeding we’ve taken a more holistic approach to crop disease and pest management. We use different crops in a rotation so that diseases and pests don’t build up in the soil and have to be treated by using chemicals.